When Harry Met Sally…

DVD  (1989)  Written by Nora Ephron/Directed by Rob Reiner                 STARRING: Meg Ryan, Billy Crystal

Back in the days when Farrah hair was sexy and grapes still had seeds, Harry Burns meets Sally Albright. It’s 1977 and these  so-opposite strangers (played by Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal) are sharing a drive from the University of Chicago to New York City, where both are starting new lives after college. The film describes the 12-year journey of their relationship, and central to the plot is this dilemma: can a man and woman truly ever just be friends? Given that this is a romantic comedy, I think we know what the answer will be for Harry and Sally—but the fun is in the journey, and in the developing friendship and love between the two.  Truly, this is the movie most other romantic comedies wish they were but, sadly, will never be.  The film is structural perfection, with great dialogue and two of the most charming  characters any New York love story has ever offered. Their priceless conversations in the opening 10 minutes set the stage for the rest of the movie.

Harry: Can’t a man say a woman is attractive without it being a come-on? Alright, alright. Let’s just say for the sake of argument that it WAS a come-on? What do you want me to do about it? I take it back. Okay?  I take it back.
Sally: You can’t take it back.
Harry: Why not?
Sally: Because it’s already out there!
Harry: Oh jeeze, what are we supposed to do? Call the cops. It’s already out there!
Sally: Just let it lie. Okay?
Harry: Great. Let it lie. That’s MY policy. That’s what I always say. Let it lie. Want to spend the night in a motel? See what I did? I didn’t let it lie.
Sally: Harry…
Harry: I said I would but I didn’t. I went the other way.
Sally: Harry…
Harry: What?
Sally: We are just going to be friends. Okay?
Harry: Great. Friends. It’s the best thing.
Harry: Of course you realize we can never be friends…

Also a treat is Meg Ryan’s famous “faking it” diner scene, which is a must-see for any self-respecting movie lover.  For me, there are just two other romantic comedies that even come close to  rivaling this one: Something’s Gotta Give (2003), and the Katherine Hepburn classic The Philadelphia Story (1959).  For those who don’t watch movies pre-1999, I imagine it’s hard for you to picture Billy Crystal as someone’s romantic love interest, but give this movie a shot. He’s terrific, as is Meg Ryan who is in her romantic-comedy prime here.

Sweet extras:  The film’s soundtrack features Harry Connick Jr.

Loved this movie? Live this movie!  

If you’re visiting  New York City, say Yes! Yes! YES! to Katz’s Delicatessen, 205 E  Houston Street.  The hilarious diner scene from the movie was shot there, and, says the Katz’s website:  “After dining here, you’ll understand why they chose this setting for the orgasm scene in When Harry Met Sally…”   Visit their website:  www.katzdeli.com/presentation.html .

Also, have your photo taken under the 77-foot-high  Washington Arch, at the entrance to Washington Square Park in Greenwich village (5th Avenue and Waverly Place).  This is where Sally drops off  Harry when they first arrive in New York.  (“Well, it was nice knowing you,” Harry says.  “Yeah,”  Sally replies awkwardly. “It was … interesting.”)  The Washington Arch was originally constructed in the late 1800s to commemorate the centennial of George Washington’s inauguration, and is modelled after the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.

If you loved  Sally’s quilt, you’re not alone — it’s a re-occuring query on quilting blogs and websites. The pattern on this yellow, green, and white applique quilt is called “windblown tulips” and is a design of early 20th-century American quilt designer and historian Marie Webster.   If you love to sew and you’re looking for a project (or if you’ve got a lovely shut-in granny or a talented friend with no social life who’d love  to sew it for you), the pattern for the quilt can be found in the book Mountain Mist Quilt Favorites and is available online through Amazon. 

Take it to the extreme:  Make a man your platonic BFF and see how long it takes before the whole thing blows up in your face.

Paula Jane


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